Cesare Maraglio, Head of the UAE Representative Office, Milan Chamber of Commerce for International Activities. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Young in age, but faced with diverse responsibilities, UAE Representative Office head Cesare Maraglio has dedicated four years to promoting entrepreneurial relations between the UAE and Milan.

The UAE Representative Office, known as Promos, is a special agency for the Milan Chamber of Commerce and is designed to develop international activities.

Promos and the Milan Chamber of Commerce provide programmes and activities to help link large, medium or small enterprises with partners who wish to invest with or in Milan.

The Italian agency said it worked in 15 countries through representative offices or within the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Besides the UAE, it has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Peru, Russia, Morocco, South Korea, Turkey, and the USA.

Since its establishment in the UAE in 2008, Promos said it had helped more than 700 companies from across Italy, who were interested in expanding their business in the UAE.

Maraglio, a 35-year-old Italian, spoke to Gulf News about the Milanese business engine that has worked closely with the Abu Dhabi and Dubai chambers of commerce, by introducing Italian and Emirati entrepreneurs. It has also been helping each to develop a better understanding of each market.

What is your relationship with the Abu Dhabi/Dubai chambers of commerce, and what do you plan to accomplish through that relationship?

When we established Promos UAE in 2008, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi and Dubai chambers of commerce, and with the Ministry of Economy, who we work with on regular basis.

Since then we have managed to learn more about various business regulations, gathered UAE data, and managed to promote the arrival of diverse Italian companies to the UAE, who initially arrived to region to simply attend seminars, workshops and special events.

We continuously refer to different UAE institutions for our international projects. An example was when various UAE ministries honoured us with their presence in Milan, shortly after the opening of our representative office in Abu Dhabi, two years ago.

What are your responsibilities as Head of the UAE Representative office for the MCC?

My role is to be the link between Italy and the UAE, and build stronger business relations between the two countries, through spotting new partnerships and business opportunities for Italian companies that undertake investments in the UAE. I also help provide information and assist Italian delegations during commercial missions and trade exhibitions while on visits to the UAE.

What do you have to say about UAE and Italian current and future relations?

Both countries have a good partnership, and I'm sure our relationship will further strengthen.

Italy has always had a close relationship with the Middle East in general, and we are looking to share some of our "Made in Italy" experiences with the UAE, which not only refers to goods manufactured in Italy, but to a system based on quality and attention to details.

I admire the UAE government's enthusiasm and ability to look into the future, as well as the Emirati pragmatism and 2030 vision. As Italians, we can certainly benefit from this.

Personally, the UAE is like a home for me, it's an open-minded country, with over 120 different nationalities living in peace, where everyone is given a chance to pursue opportunities.

How many Italian expatriates reside in the UAE? How is Italian tourism across the UAE doing?

According to our General Consulate, the Italian expatriates residing in the UAE are almost 3,500 — however Italian visitors and tourists are three or four times that number.

How important is the Milano Med Forum for Milan?

The Milan Forum represents an important occasion for dialogue and discussion between governments and the private sector.

It is an opportunity to undertake more decisive steps towards promoting socio-economic and financial integration in the Euro-Mediterranean Region.

The first edition of the forum, which took place in Milan in July 2009, saw the participation of more than 2,500 Italian and international representatives, and high-level delegates from private/public sectors and economic institutions.

Some of these have included the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment Christine Lagarde, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the President of European Investment Bank Philippe Maystadt. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, will be presenting this year's second Milano Med Forum, which will continue to develop and consolidate defined projects in the previous edition, as well as bring together authoritative representatives from both Italian and foreign Governments, public/private economic entities, the European Commission and the principal international organisations.

Over 20 countries from the Mediterranean region will take part in the forum.

What investments and benefits does Milan offer a UAE businessman? What can the UAE learn from Milan as a market?

Milan is the principal destination in Italy for foreign investment, the main operating platform for foreign multinationals, and has the highest per capital income in Italy. It stands as the second most popular tourist destination in Italy.

The ability to attract economic, technological and professional resources is derived from numerous factors, such as Milan's strategic location, and its strong logistics and business-industrial hub for Europe and the Mediterranean.

In addition, Milan is the capital of fashion, design and innovation, as well as communication and publishing in Italy.

It's also an excellence centre on health and biotechnology, and the primary centre for advanced services.

Who are your target clients, and what exactly does your Abu Dhabi headquarters offer the UAE market?

We don't really have specific target-clients, because we offer a wide range of services which can be customised according to different requirements.

We can find properties for sale in Milan, and support the whole set-up of an activity, or provide any kind of consultation needed by anyone who may be interested in knowing more about our region.

Recently, for instance, our Shanghai representative office helped set up an operation in Milan for a Chinese trading company, worth 18 million euros.

This will enable the new company to distribute Italian goods to the north of China, through a shopping mall, entirely dedicated to selling "Made in Italy" products.

Emirati people love Milan for shopping, fashion and design, but there are many other interesting opportunities that they can further explore.

What's the Milan Chamber of Commerce's main objective, and what do they hope to accomplish in the UAE?

Promos' main objective is two-fold. On one hand, as a special agency of the Milan Chamber of Commerce, to promote international activities, and help Italian companies develop their businesses globally, find new partners and support their competitiveness, with a particular focus on small and medium enterprises.

On the other hand, we help attract foreign investments to Milan, through high-level international scientific and cultural projects.

As far as the attraction of investments is concerned, the main asset for Milan remains the highly skilled human resources, which is also the main reason why foreign companies choose Milan.

In return, the Milan Chamber of Commerce's initiative to promote a service especially aimed at facilitating access for potential partners globally, Invest in Milan, was created.

It is a free service entirely dedicated to assisting foreign investors throughout their search for good opportunities in Milan and nearby.

What projects is Promos Abu Dhabi and the Italian Embassy working closely on?

Our goal is to develop closer interaction between Italian and Emirati companies, and between institutions.

This is why we work closely with the Italian Embassy, as in the case of the Euromed-Forum, which Promos is hosting in Milan in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Lombardy Region, with the support of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

How much has been invested to set up Promos Abu Dhabi, and how much have you invested in the country ever since your launch?

Our activities are none-profit, at least as far as Promos/MCC is concerned.

We focus on helping as many companies as possible, in order to increase Italian investments and business in the UAE.

Do you have any Italian competitors in the UAE?

At times we collaborate with the Italian Trade Commission in Dubai, similar to the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Sharjah, but aside a few consultancies, we can't really say that they are competitors.

In addition, we have a wide network of consultants and collaborators pretty much everywhere, and we organize business missions in many other countries.

In the GCC and the Mediterranean region, and recently, in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.